By Jim Curns

How much should an annual cost? I can’t tell you how many times I hear that question, especially online from a new owner. It’s a fair question, but honestly there is too much “it depends” to give a real answer. Con­tinue reading to get a better sense of what you should expect or change in the way you deal with this annual requirement.

For this story, I will use a typical Cessna 172 or Piper Cher­okee: a simple, 4 seat, single engine plane without retract­able gear or constant speed prop. If you want to talk about Arrows, 182RGs, 210s and the like, their annuals would be more complicated and expensive. Twins get into really big money. Pressurized cabins and turbines are in the “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it” classification.

Variables to Consider

  1. Is this an inspection or is this the only time your plane is in the shop each year? In other words, do you catch up on the yearly maintenance all at once?
    Neither answer is wrong if you fly a modest amount, but to be a fair comparison, it matters.
  2. Do you provide help to your mechanic that your me­chanic deems valuable?
    I’ve been around my own toolbox for 51 years and airplanes for a lot of those years. My IA (mechanic with Inspection Authorization) knows what I can do and what I am better off not doing. We talk very openly about his level of comfort for the repair and maintenance side of what I do. He still needs to be the inspector, but he can legally oversee my efforts during the annual, saving his time and effort.

Ways to Defray Costs

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